A silver lining of sticking close to home is having more time to notice and appreciate the beautiful little details that are often right in front of one’s nose.
Such was the case when I picked up the alder branch in these photos, which had fallen across one of our trails. I intended to toss it aside, but instead, I looked more closely, and found it interesting enough to carry to our patio table to photograph.
Each section of the branch was different and equally fascinating.
All this diversity on a single small branch!
During a walk in the woods on a later day, I noticed something I’d missed for years: the trunks of the alders are dotted with tiny lichens, resembling miniature butter tarts.
These tiny tree lichens are at most only a couple of millimetres across, so I had to go back to the house to fetch my close-up lenses in order to photograph them. The extra exercise was well worth it.
Worldwide, about 20,000 species of lichens have been identified according to Wikipedia (whose article is well worth reading). Each of these lichen species is actually a composite life form – made up of either a photosynthesizing algae or cyanobacteria, living in a mutually beneficial relationship with some species of fungus.
I’m guessing that the huge number of permutations this communal living arrangement allows means there are more species yet to be identified. What a fascinating, diverse planet we live on!